Carmen sells Megaphone in Vancouver. She has a new part-time vending location from 2-8pm at Main and 26th in Mount Pleasant.
Carmen finds a new kind of happiness
“I was a Hope in Shadows vendor last year. I’ve been selling Megaphone for a year almost. People say they know me [they’ve started recognizing me]—I’m like, “it hasn’t been that long!”
“I grew up in foster care. I was really sick and I was homeless. One of my friends was living in supportive housing. He was like, “These people are really trying to help you; you should really try to talk to them.” So I started working with Atira and I was living in women’s housing for a while. I have a daughter and I was having a lot of problems in general. Court. And there were all kinds of people coming after me for lots of stuff. But I was sick and I was homeless. I was also suffering from depression. I used to go to Triage all the time; they have mental health services.
“It was a really hard time. I was at Atira Women’s Resource Society and I saw a Hope in Shadows flyer. I was trying to talk to so many different people at the time, trying to move forward. I was like, “I should just try it.” So I came over here.
“I like that Megaphone is flexible.The flexible hours are helpful for me because I always have to be everywhere for my daughter, and it’s sometimes really hard to do other work on top of that.
“Megaphone has helped out a lot. In terms of eating better, I can afford better food. You have the extra couple bucks to go get whatever it is that will help you. That little thing that you need, you can go get it instead of going to extremes to go get it.
“Sometimes it’s really stressful going to the food bank or places where you can get shelter. So if you can just go buy it, it might save you the drama or the trouble or the energy you just don’t have.
“Here in the Downtown Eastside, I think there’s a lot of judging and trying to hurt people who are homeless. There’s a lot of trust issues. It’s hard to do a good thing. But I think a lot of people are doing really good here, too. I wish I wasn’t attacked so much by stereotypes, and I do make a good mom.
“I know a lot of people who aredoing really well and have helped. They’ve given me resources: “Oh, go here, go there.” And I’ve actually gotten what I needed in order to be happy. Which is the most important thing.
“People have changed here in a big way. Some people who have lived most of their lives homeless have gotten housing. I’ve gotten help with my daughter. That stuff never would have happened if people weren’t trying to help us.
“Good friends and good doctors have gotten me through. I was really sick. I’m happy to be healthy. I’ve found some hope in doing some amateur boxing at the Astoria and was able to box through my illness.
“Even though I’m still dealing with some stresses, I can say that I’m ok now. I’m really happy now. I know I’m not depressed anymore.”